How to Install Attic Insulation Over Existing
An attic insulation upgrade may be in order if your energy bills are out of control and your home has wildly inconsistent temperatures. The comfort and energy efficiency of your home can often be enhanced by retrofitting rather than removing the current insulation.
Does your attic insulation need an upgrade? REenergizeCO serves homeowners in Denver, Fort Collins, and throughout the Colorado Front Range. We offer multiple types of insulation for attics, and our team can help you determine if retrofitting or removal and replacement is necessary. Often, we are able to install additional insulation over existing rather than replacing it.
Is It Worth Upgrading Attic Insulation?
You may need an attic insulation upgrade if you notice any of the following:
1. Your HVAC Is Always Running
If your attic is poorly insulated, your A/C will have to work overtime in the summer to offset the hot air moving into your house. In the winter, meanwhile, your furnace may seem like it’s constantly running to replace the warm air that’s escaping through the attic.
2. Your Energy Bills Are High
The more your air conditioner or furnace runs, the higher your energy bills will be. According to the Building Performance Institute, nearly 50% of conditioned air is lost through leaks in the attic. This inefficiency costs you more each month.
3. Uneven Cooling and Heating
Attic air leaks can create hot and cold spots throughout the house, particularly on the upper levels. If certain rooms are drafty or have fluctuating temperatures, degraded or inadequate insulation in the attic may be to blame.
4. Ice Dams
One of the most common issues we see in poorly insulated or under-insulated attics is the formation of ice along the roof (known as an ice dam). Ice dams prevent water from draining off the roof when snow and ice melts. This can lead to leaks and water damage.
5. Wind Damage
Wind wash is an effect that occurs when high winds penetrate the outer envelope of the house. The attic is particularly vulnerable to wind wash, with one of the most common issues being displacement of home insulation. If your house—like many on the Front Range—is regularly hit by high winds, it may be worth inspecting your attic insulation.
Read More: How Do I Stop Wind Washing?
Can You Install Insulation in the Attic Over Existing Insulation?
As a rule, yes, you can augment existing attic insulation. The first step is making sure the insulation is still intact and not wet, moldy, or damaged. If the condition is poor, the insulation will need to be removed and replaced.
We generally find that insulation removal is the exception, not the rule. Your current attic insulation can typically be retrofitted with blown-in insulation or batts and rolls. There are multiple options for upgrading attic insulation:
- Fiberglass Insulation
- Cellulose Insulation
- Mineral Wool Insulation
Spray foam insulation is another option for upgrading your attic. However, spray foam doesn’t adhere well to other insulation materials. So, if you decide to go with spray foam for an attic insulation upgrade, the current fiberglass or other insulation will need to be removed first.
How Much More Attic Insulation Do I Need?
A professional contractor will measure the insulation you already have in the attic and determine how much more is needed. The attic insulation upgrade is not about increasing the thickness of the insulation per se, but enhancing the R-value.
R-value is a measure of a material’s heat resistance. If existing insulation is underperforming, the goal of an upgrade is to improve the R-value so the space is properly insulated.
In Colorado, the recommended R-value for attic insulation is R-49—the highest of any area of the house. Obtaining R-49 for the attic involves finding the right insulation material and calculating how much will need to be added to the walls and ceiling.
Can I Upgrade the Attic Insulation Myself?
Anybody can try to seal attic air leaks themselves. The DIY approach might be attractive from a cost standpoint. However, it pays to be aware of several downsides:
- Missing potential problems. Insulation professionals know how to detect issues that can affect the attic’s suitability for retrofit applications. Overlooking these problems can lead to continued or worsening inefficiency.
- Current attic insulation needs to be properly measured. Home insulation is a lot like Goldilocks; it needs to be “just right” to seal your home properly. Improperly measuring the existing insulation may result in you adding too much or too little insulation.
- Health and comfort issues. Fiberglass insulation is extremely irritating to the skin. The particles are also hazardous when breathed in. If you don’t wear the right protective equipment, you’re at risk for irritation of the eyes, airways, skin, and more.
- It’s a mess. Major retrofit applications may involve opening up the walls of the attic, creating a lot of dust and debris. Not only is this bad for your health, but it’s a pain to clean up.
- Damaging your home. Improperly accessing the walls, ceiling, or floor of the attic can damage the joists, rafters, and other structures. Hiring a reputable insulation company is the best way to keep your home in pristine condition.
Professional insulation contractors have the skills, training, and experience to avoid these issues. Retrofit applications can be completed by an installer in as little as one day. The install will be customized to your needs and goals, and your home will be treated with the utmost respect.
Get Started on Your Attic Insulation Upgrade
Do you want lower energy bills and a more comfortable and energy-efficient home? Improving the insulation in your attic may be just what you need!
Inspection of your home insulation is a key part of a comprehensive energy audit. Our certified energy auditors will examine the insulation in the attic and other areas of your home, then make recommendations for upgrades.
REenergizeCO is recognized as a leading insulation company in Denver, Fort Collins, and the Front Range. Our focus is on revitalizing Colorado’s existing houses through targeted, affordable, and effective energy efficiency improvements.